Universities are always looking for new ways to demonstrate the strength of their research and the quality their learning environment. How can a university differentiate itself as it strives to attract the brightest students and most respected faculty? In our ongoing focus on education, we spoke with Maria Arrellaga, Director of Communications for the Cockrell School of Engineering at University of Texas.
Maria, thanks for taking time to talk with us. How did you learn about SlideShare?
It’s known in academic communities as a social media and networking tool. Faculty know about it, but not as much at the premium levels. We’ve had a hard time finding other universities using it the way we’re using it.
How does your Pro channel fit into the larger plan to promote the school?
It’s so important for the branding of our school. We want people to find us when they see our presentations. I see it as being very similar to how we use our YouTube channel, which we’ve given the same url as our SlideShare channel. We’re trying to:
- Showcase our research so prospective students know what we have going on
- Use it as part of our faculty recruitment efforts
We didn’t want to lessen the impact of our presentation by having ads pop up. We wanted the channel to be ‘ours’. It is all about the Cockrell school, showcasing our content, having control over the way it looks. When people search Google on a research topic it’s great to have our branded site come up.
People are searching SlideShare like they do Google. You get into SlideShare and just start searching. If a graduate school candidate is shopping schools, we want to come up first. It helps with our partnership relations with corporate companies, as well. We want to make sure that those companies know what expertise we have.
How will students use it?
Existing students might use it to see what kind of research is going on. Right now our channel is focused on the research aspect as it relates to attracting new faculty and graduate students. Corporations and graduate students have an interest in that, too. Grad students pick a school based on the research that’s being done there or even a particular faculty member. There’s a lot of traffic on SlideShare, so we’re more likely to be found.
How will you grow your channel?
Some faculty have embraced it, but we want everyone to use it. It’s an ongoing effort. Starting with research, we’re helping the users to make sure they’re tagging their presentations correctly. We haven’t written up a cheat sheet, but that would be a good thing to have. We sit down with users and make sure they understand how SlideShare works. Faculty members send their presentations to the communications group, who tags and reviews them for quality assurance, then publish to our Pro channel. We do pay attention to the traffic. Right now we’re noticing that Water Energy mixes seems to be the most interesting to people.
We’re promoting our SlideShare channel in faculty meetings, building an intranet, and growing our internal communications. With faculty, we show them that here is another tool they can use. Our research is what we’re highlighting and we want to showcase our research stories.
What do you suggest other schools do when implementing social networking and content sharing tools like SlideShare?
It’s a great tool to take advantage of. It’s a matter of thinking it through it and setting it up in a way that makes sense for your team and the workflow of the department. It’s great for showcasing our stories.
You can find more about Cockrell School of Engineering’s SlideShare channel here http://www.slideshare.net/cockrellschool.
If you are using SlideShare in an educational setting, let us know with a comment here – we want to hear from you.